Cafe Savoy (Prague)

Wait – Prague?
Yes Prague!

Last week has been awfully quiet on this blog (but not on our Instagram or Facebook *hint hint*), because my lovely partner whisked me away to lovely, wonderful Prague.

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This city y’all. It’s so gorgeous and romantic, and the cultural history is just such a quintessential aspect of it all that you feel smarter just looking up at the buildings you’re walking past.
We spent 3 wonderful nights there, and being back in grey Bonnie Scotland I already miss it so much (being back at work doesn’t help).

One of the things we did, of course, was sit down for a cup of tea and a cake. Now Prague is full of places where you can get tea and cake, and lots of it looked absolutely delicious. However, as it was the day that we were going to go to the opera, my partner and I decided to live it up and go to the Cafe Savoy.

Cafe Savoy

This place was fancy you guys. I spent quite some time staring at the gorgeous ceiling and the chandeliers, and my dressed up boyfriend, and the cake display and ooh it was beautiful.There is also lots of staff around, and the display of cakes, and wine on their winewall, was very impressive.

One thing to note though, about Prague rather than Cafe Savoy specifically, is that the service is horrid. I always felt like I had done something to offend the staff – even though there is no way, as often I’d just walked in when this feeling hit me – and they would be loath to come over to help out. At Cafe Savoy we sat upstairs, and saw 3 out 6 staff members just hanging around, not doing anything. There was one man who was wonderful though, and I’m so sorry that I didn’t catch his name. But you know who you are, and hats off to you! You provide service that is outshining your entire city.

Cafe Savoy Prague

It all looked very yummy – the only issue being that the names were all in Czech. As my Czech is not the best, I based my judgement on looks alone. After debating for a while I decided to go for the strawberry cup, also because we decided to have a glass of Prosecco with our tea (because we’re fancy that way).

After somehow managing to get a waitress to give us a tea menu, and then to take our order (it took a while), our table ended up as beautiful and enticing as anything:

Cafe Savoy Prague

Sorry for the blurry pic, I was just too excited to dig in!

The strawberry cup was very yummy, a refreshing combination of fresh strawberries, vanilla cake and some kind of thick, vanilla cream. It was also a wonderful match for the tea I went for: the Marco Polo. This tea is a velvety black tea infusion. All the information you get on the menu is that it has “Chinese and Tibetan flowers”, and whatever these flowers are – they mix beautifully.

This tea was wonderful, absolutely amazing, and made very well. It also went pretty well with the strawberry cup and Prosecco!

Bottom line is – go to Prague. This city is definitely worth the visit, it looks fantastic, the food and drink are cheap and delicious, and there is so much to see and do!

If When you go to Prague, should you go to Cafe Savoy? You can, depending on if you want something very Czech, or more silly posh. It’s quite expensive for Prague standards, at around UK prices, but the over-the-topness of it all is quite worth it!

I loved it, and now I’m back with new books to review – hurrah!

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Tearoom Review Update!

Hi guys!

You may have noticed that this week’s tearoom review has not come out yet – not to worry, it’s coming later this week!

I’ve been working quite a bit, and my lovely partner is taking me away to Prague tomorrow! So the next review is going to be a travel blog too!

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I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are too 🙂 see you soon!

A Song for Ella Grey

This week’s review is a tough one for me. To be honest, it was supposed to come out last week, but I didn’t manage to finish the book in time. I actually thought I would never finish it at all!

If you know me, you know that it pains me to not finish a book I started. It’s a dramatic gesture, only reserved for those books I just cannot stand. This was pretty much one of them. So let’s dive right into A Song for Ella Grey, by David Almond.

This book is a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridyce. A quick refresher: Orpheus is a master musician, who can charm every living creature with his song. He marries the lovely Euridyce, who gets bitten by a snake and dies pretty much immediately. Heartbroken, Orpheus goes down to Hades and persuades him via song to take Euridyce back to the living. There is one condition: Orpheus cannot look back at Euridyce whilst on their journey back up, or she’ll be dead forever. Of course he does, and it’s tragedy all around.

This story is essentially the same, but Eurydice is now called Ella Grey, and the story is told by Claire, Ella’s obsessive best friend. (As Ella is Euridyce I’ll just go ahead and call her Elladyce, because I like to think I’m funny.) It’s set in modern(ish) time England, so there’s some interesting accents and lots of partying.

And that’s it, that’s the story. As it is pretty much the same as the original myth, I will spend most of this review talking about style and narrative strategies. Don’t worry, it won’t be dry!

He smelt his fingers. A beetle was crawling on them. He breathed on it and let it crawl to the earth.

A blackbird sang. He turned his face to it and smiled, and sang quickly back in answer.

‘I found nothing,’ he said, ‘I thought I would have to kill myself.’

A sudden flock of pigeons swooped over our heads. He made a noise of feathers with his breath and tongue. He made more birdsong and more birds came. He made a sound of water and two salmon leapt.

‘Then I knew I had to come back here,’ he said.

He blew an echo of the breeze. And the breeze blew warm. The clouds were opening, preparing for an astounding dusk, and twin beams of brilliant light shone down through them onto the city.

‘I knew I’d have to start from here,’ he said. ‘Where it all started.’

All emphases mine to highlight the word repetition.

It’s kind of bad to have so much repetition in just one page. Sometimes, you can’t avoid having to use the same words. This is not the case here. Even worse is that you could just skip this page all together. This is the part after Elladyce died and Orpheus and Claire are looking for the entrance to Death/Hades. It should carry at least some form of suspense or drama, and as the reader has been battered to death with how whimsically magical Orpheus is, all that these descriptions mount up to is breaking the flow of the narrative. This happens throughout the entire novel, and I understand why: the author wanted to make it feel surreal, and flow like a dream. Unfortunately, in this case this came at the expense of an enjoyable read.

It’s a bit painful to read this novel. I like the original myth, and I love modern retellings of classic tales. The idea for this text was great, and having the story be told by an outsider (who is also totally in love with Elladyce) was very clever as it could shift the focus from Romeo and Juliet style lovey love love to a story about a different kind of loss. However, making Claire be in love with Elladyce means we have yet another YA love triangle – seriously, why couldn’t it just have been about friendship? Have we learnt nothing from Daria? – and the writing makes it really hard to get through this book at all. For some reason, for instance, everyone pretty much always refers to Elladyce by her full name. The dialogue in general is very stiff and unnatural. Here, for instance, you have two overbearing, heartbroken parents confronting Claire and her parents about the death of their beloved child:

‘Ha! And you,’ said Mr Grey, baring his teeth at me now. ‘What did you do to protect her? What did you do, oh best of friends?’

‘It was an accident,’ I answered. ‘It was a chance in a million. It was the snakes.’

‘It was no accident,’ said Mrs Grey. ‘It was not the snakes. It was you and you and you, and the rest of the stupid motley crew. You are the ones who caused the death of Ella Grey.’

The retelling strategies in this novel are also a bit confusing: choosing the name Orpheus for the same character from the myth makes it obvious what the story will be, but why change Euridyce to Ella? Or Hades to the too-vague Death? Calling Orpheus by that name makes it impossible to see him as a part of the modern setting, which is probably what the author went for. It also makes it impossible to see him as a part of Elladyce, no matter how much the author tries to paint her as something that is not a part of this world.

I feel sad about this book. The idea was so great, and it was clear that the author knew what he was doing. He just didn’t manage to pull it off.


As I said above, I struggled finishing this book. I found myself skipping sentences, paragraphs, almost even pages. To keep myself awake and going, I decided to match this novel to a tea that maybe superficially makes no sense – but bare with me here.

This story’s tone is fairytale-esque and dreamy – and confused. There’s a lot of talk about beaches, parties, divine music, young and obsessive love and heart breaking death. I would therefore recommend a tea which is also light, slightly floral, and elegant in tones. However, the only way I could keep going was through dissonance. I had to enjoy at least something from this experience, and the only way to do that was to enjoy the tea. Because of this, I decided on Yumchaa‘s Chilli Chilli Bang Bang. Described on their website as something to drink when “you need a superhero side kick” it seemed appropriate. It’s a wonderful infusion of cinnamon, ginger, red thistle, sweet red pepper corns, and a Rooibos base. The Rooibos does have that light and elegant nature to match the dreaminess, and the rest is very healthy for you. And to keep you awake, it’s got a slight punch of chilli!

A Song for Ella Grey Chilli Chilli Bang Bang


So if you feel like reading about Orpheus and Euridyce, do so – the myth is a classic for a reason. But maybe skip this book and just have the tea instead.

Victor Hugo Delicatessen (Edinburgh)

Today, as almost every Monday, my partner and I went for tea in beautiful Edinburgh. The sun was shining, the trees are blossoming, and we both felt a great pull to a cute little café situated by  a large park. As we are both continentals living in the UK, it was quite a nice change of things to go to Victor Hugo Delicatessen, a continental café.

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This place is quite sweet! – especially for us foreigners: it is nice to get a sense of home. With the displays of cheeses, meats and breads, combined with the classic wooden floors and decorations, it’s all very European.
Going to this place is a quick fix for your European needs!

Although they offer all kinds of savoury foods here, I came with one thing in mind – cake. And oh my, do they have cake!

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The tea they have here are from the brand TeaPigs again, and this time I went for the Rooibos Creme Brulee infusion. For my cake I selected a slice of carrot cake.

The tea was sweet, but not overly so, and with a nice amount of caramel in its flavour. It was comforting and warming, and although it didn’t really taste like crème brûlée, it did taste good.

However. That cake stole the show. I am a sucker for carrot cake anyways, but this one was the best I have ever had. I think this may be because there was a layer of cream cheese icing in the middle as well? It was deliciously moist and perfectly sweet and I loved it.

I am saying it right here, right now: for the best carrot cake in Edinburgh, go to Victor Hugo Delicatessen. Oh and they serve tea too.

The Elephant House (Edinburgh)

Today I did something I never thought I would: I went to The Elephant House.
There are really only 2 reasons I figured I would never go in there: it’s always super busy with tourists, and it proudly claims to be the “birthplace of Harry Potter”, which it isn’t – although it was in part written there.
However, as I am running out of places to review in Edinburgh, I found myself braving the crowds and going in for some tea and cake.

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Although I knew it was going to be busy, the queue still took my by surprise. It was so crowded! When you enter the café, you are to place your order by the counter before you can take your seat – a measure presumably enforced to prevent Harry Potter pilgrims from simply coming in without purchasing something. It makes sense and isn’t too much of a bother, providing the crowd isn’t too big. Which it was.
The decor is nice, with lots of elephant statuettes scattered around and an overall comfortable and warm air. There is essentially no service to speak of, as it was too busy for the staff to deal with.

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As for the tea and cake, I decided to go for the Japanese Cherry Green Tea infusion, with a slice of Walnut-Nutella cake. And I was charged £6.40, a price unrivalled in Edinburgh I think, which is quite the achievement in an already expensive city.
This sudden lightness of my wallet, combined with my hard prejudice against this place (I have to admit), weighed heavily on my shoulders as I was about to tuck in.

However.
I also have to admit that it was delicious. The cake was perfectly moist, with the exact right amount of nuts, and without an overpowering amount of Nutella. The tea was beautifully delicate, the cherry notes providing the perfect amount of sweetness and the green tea never reached bitterness. It was, quite frankly, very good.

Was it worth £6.40?
Well, considering that it wasn’t coated in gold, nor was it presented to me on a silver platter by a butler assigned to me- I would have to say definitely not. That said, the satisfaction I got from the guilty pleasure cake and the elegant tea did soften the stinging pain from my wallet a little bit.

Final verdict?
Go to The Elephant House if you are a) a die-hard Potter fan who believes the claim on the window, or b) very rich and forgot the value of money. Or c), silly like me.

Blog Layout Mistakes

Hi all! (Especially my loyal reader from Brazil, obrigada!)

So I’ve just browsed through the blog myself for the first time in a while annnd I noticed some layout issues, like how every post after March 28th was in full italics (I did not write it like that)! So as soon as I’ve got the time, probably this Sunday, I’ll have a look at it again and fix it all. Expect to see lots of updates!

I’m also considering adding new regular-ish features to the blog: a fairytale review, and a cooking/baking recipe using tea as an ingredient. These would only be every once in a while, maybe biweekly until I see if it goes down well. Let me know what you think!

Anyways, update over. Please enjoy your time on this blog, let me know what you think – and as always, thank you for reading! ❤

Snuff

Vimes thought for a moment and said, ‘Well, dear, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man with a lot of wood must be in want of a wife who can handle a great big–

I can’t believe we’re already half a year into this blog, and this is the first time I talk about a Terry Pratchett novel!
For those of you who are unaware (there are not too many of you left!), Terry Pratchett was a fantasy novelist with possibly the longest series ever. His Discworld series spans 50 novels, all loosely connected stand alone stories, with varying protagonists and settings. (You can read this series in any order!) Pratchett’s style is humourous high fantasy, filled to the brim with political and philosophical satire. However, as with any series, not all his novels are as great (or even good) as some others. I for instance loved The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic (including the movie!), but could not bring myself to finish Moving Pictures – and I’m not sure where my copy of Raising Steam has gone.
Yes, I will have to agree with any and all critics of this series in that a series this long will inevitably have some bad installments in it. It totally does. However, there are also some true shining diamonds here, and one of them I will discuss here today.



Snuff
is my first City Watch novel (which means that it is mainly about characters involved with the Ankhmopork City Watch), and it’s amazing.
The story is about the Commander of the Watch, Lord Vimes, whose wife dragged him away to her country estate for a forced holiday. He’s a Bruce Willis-esque hard ass, who seems unable to escape trouble – and who dearly loves his wife. Vimes feels intensely uncomfortable without the hustle and bustle – and smell – of the city. But when a goblin girl gets brutally murdered and he gets the blame, he falls into his zone trying to uncover the deep, dark conspiracy lurking in the sleepy countryside.

This novel does several clever things with its form (yes I know it was the author that did the clever things, but I’ll just personify the novel instead). Because of the setting it’s a historical drama, with balls, lords, ladies and dowries. Because of its story, it’s a detective. Because of the tone, it’s a satirical comedy.
This novel is the prime example to demonstrate that such an odd mixture of tones and forms is not only possible, but can elevate a story way beyond its constraints.
It also doesn’t explain every aspect of the world it is set in to you, just the bare basics you’ll need to know to understand what’s going on. This makes you feel more immersed quicker than you would if there were just chunks of exposition littered throughout the long text. This is indeed quite the long read for a Discworld novel, but it is still too short. It is exactly the right length to make you fall hard and fast for Commander Vimes, his family, and the world they live in.

Snuff Cover Vimes
Just look at him, he’s so cool!

A large portion of the novel deals with the struggle for goblin equality. In a world where trolls, dwarves, vampires and werewolves are all accepted members of society, only the goblins are still considered so far removed from humans as to be considered vermin. Commander Vimes is one of the few people who considers this wrong, and part of his journey in this story is to convince others of the goblins’ humanity.
Personally, I cannot help but read this as a race allegory. It’s quite moving in that way, and it does show how ingrained inequality is in society, how hard and long the struggle for equality is, and how people can have dangerous mindsets without realising it. Hats off to you, Mr. Pratchett!

This novel is truly amazing, a must read for fans of fantasy, crime novels, or period dramas. It will make you laugh, love and cry, and I think that’s pretty neat.


As for the tea to go with it, after some deliberation I’ve decided it would have to be a Russian Caravan, based on the character of Vimes himself. On the one hand he’s a hardened cop, marked by the dark and disturbing things he’s seen, feeling the pull of the dark side even within himself – something which calls for a smokey, robust flavour. On the other hand he’s a loving husband and father, reading with his son and going on expeditions, and doing anything his wife asks of him – even giving up bacon. Also he loves pillows, which is cute. These traits demand a lighter, more delicate note.

In comes Russian Caravan, a black tea blend which attempts to recreate the flavour of Chinese black teas as drunk by campfires whilst being transported to Russia. I think this is a great fit, as it captures all the aspects of Vimes’ personality – and would be something his wife would actually allow him to drink!

Russian Caravan
Look. I don’t actually own Russian Caravan. But this is what it looks like! (will upload a picture as soon as I have it)

So drop yourself in a sea of pillows, leaving you only enough light to read this wonderful book and drink your warming and complex Russian Caravan, and prepare yourself to get lost for hours.